Commercial Farm Projects

Farm Time with Elisabeth Fekonia

Experiencing Elisabeth Fekonia’s Permaculture Farm

by Carly Gillham

A few weeks ago, my partner I were invited by Elisabeth Fekonia to spend few days at her permaculture farm, in order to give her a hand with the garden and the animals. We accepted gladly as we knew that in addition to being helpful, we’d also learn a lot.

Indeed, Elisabeth is the person who taught us how to make homemade brie, cheddar, cottage cheese, butter, ghee, sour cream, yoghurt and kefir – all of this in a one day workshop only! But she also knows how to make sourdough bread, miso, sauerkraut, rennet, soap (out of pig fat), sponge (out of the loofah vine), as well as how to build a house, make wooden furniture, dig dams, save seeds, etc…. We definitely encourage you to check out her website.

So we arrived there and stayed four days. A pretty short stay as you can see, but sufficient to help her in different ways, and to enjoy the farm experience. The place was designed to allow those living there to be self-sufficient. As such, it has a number of edible gardens of different types, as well as pigs, cows (plus a bull), chickens, goats and bees; the water comes from a well located on the property – and grey water is also used to water parts of the garden; the balconies are filled with herbs of different sorts and the use of a compost toilet helps capturing nutrients from human excreta. The gardens across her property fulfill various functions and create their own micro-climates; you will find tropical edible plants, a veggie patch and an orchard amongst others. A special treat for us was the spinach quiche Elisabeth made for us from the tropical large leafed Tahitian spinach.

Last but not least, the house is built on the top of the Black Mountain, which means it has an incredible view of the valley below….

We ended up feeding the animals, working in the edible gardens, milking the goats and cows, repairing the property fence as well as the pigs’ pen walls and other stuff, cleaning the place, making (loads!) of butter, grinding flour, but also having long discussions with Elisabeth about her farming and teaching permaculture experiences. You’ll learn without surprise that it’s hard and constant work and includes a number of different constraints ranging from regulations, to animals’ fluctuating health and to constant property maintenance (no holidays for her)…. The good thing though is that in addition to living a pretty healthy life and being self-sufficient at the same time, you end up with fridges full of meat, eggs, cheese of different sorts, as well as milk, cream, etc. There is a definite pleasure found in processing your own food, from seeds to compost!

It was also pretty cute to see how the animals relate to Elisabeth. While the goats and cows were free-ranging in the 6-acre property, she’d simply have to call them by name from her balcony and they’d reply to her, bleating and mooing, each louder than the next!

Anyway, this was only an introduction to her farm, but a definitely worthwhile one. We had hoped to be able to visit her again soon, but our coming weeks are unfortunately already pretty busy preparing for our adventures abroad.

6 Comments

  1. It was great having Carly and her partner Jean stay at my place. They learnt a bit and I had heaps of help. Looking for more people like them. By the way,the pigs are still wallowing in the mud-it hasn’t stopped raining!

  2. Glad to find this post that permaculture farms are underway in the U.S. Just beginning to learn about growing this way – and so excited to know it can be done on a mini-farm scale.

  3. This unique mountain side permaculture farm is in The Sunshine Coast Hinterland of Queensland, Australia. I believe she is still welcoming WOOFERS ….

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